L.V. v. New York City Department of Education

Milbank LLP assisted in the case.

After years of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) failing to follow hearing orders to provide or pay for services for students with disabilities, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) and Milbank LLP filed a Motion for an Independent Special Master to oversee the DOE’s implementation of these orders. The motion was filed in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York in connection with the class action lawsuit, L.V. v. New York City Department of Education.

When the DOE fails to provide appropriate educational services or school placements to students with disabilities, their parents may request an impartial hearing to enforce their children’s rights. Following the hearing, an impartial hearing officer can order the DOE to provide services to a student or pay the cost of services or school tuition.

In 2003, AFC and Milbank filed a class action lawsuit, L.V. v. New York City Department of Education, alleging that, after parents of children with disabilities received favorable orders in impartial hearings, the DOE was failing to implement the required remedies. In 2007, the DOE settled with the families and agreed to implement all orders involving special education within 35 days, unless the hearing officer set a different deadline. The settlement had increasing benchmarks that the DOE committed to reach before the settlement sunsets.

AFC and Milbank filed a motion in federal court because the DOE is failing to meet even the lowest agreed upon benchmark. While a special unit for implementation of these orders created in 2011 was supposed to improve the DOE’s rates of implementation, any improvement has now slipped. The DOE’s timely implementation rate has declined even further.

The delays in implementing these orders have exacerbated the harm to students with disabilities and their families. Families file hearings only after the DOE has denied their children the services or school placements they need to learn. The most recent data show that, from the time parents request a hearing, on average, it takes 225 days to receive a hearing order. Then, after receiving a favorable decision, students have had to wait months to receive services they were awarded by an impartial hearing officer and parents have waited up to a year to receive ordered reimbursement for services, causing financial hardship.

The Milbank team was led by Erik Wilson.

Involved fees earner: Erik Wilson – Milbank;

Law Firms: Milbank;

Clients: L.V;

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Author: Ambrogio Visconti